Letter Re: More Observations on the Aftermath of Hurricane Dolly

Dear JWR and Memsahib,
On June 30, in a response to “Help with a Non-Preparedness Minded Spouse”, I shared the thoughts of like-minded men in a group meeting regularly with my husband to prepare for survival needs. Due to the lack of female companionship I was experiencing, and the frustration my husband’s buddies were experiencing, I offered to start a “Ladies Auxiliary” group to motivate the wives to see the value of preparing for emergency survival. Living near the coast of Texas provides us with the challenge of hurricanes each summer, so that became the topic for personal and immediate preparedness.

We had NOAA hurricane tracking maps, National Hurricane Center Weather Service information, hurricane terminology lists, emergency preparedness time lines, steps for a family plan, lists for emergency/bug out kits and first aid kits, what to do before, during and after the storm, links to pet plans, and how to secure your home, help for the elderly, online vulnerability awareness of communities, plans for escape routes, and the Contraflow Plan for one way traffic during evacuation, all in binders with appropriate tabs. At the back of each binder, I placed a print out from the well-known Red Cross web site which showed kits for general emergency equipment such as three day pack, AM/FM shortwave radios with flashlights, and cell phone chargers. There was an article on how to put together a 72 hour kit and another on clarifying and purifying water. The final article was on dangers in the world right now. (The Internet is an invaluable source of information.)

I sent out invitations, planned snacks, set out chairs, provided TV trays to set binders on for note taking, sent out my husband for hi-liters, then waited in hopes of an hour or so of introductions and preparedness discussion. About half of my ladies came and they stayed for four hours of in-depth planning!! The ladies who couldn’t come that day came the following week and also stayed for four hours, with the same results!

The short story is that three days after meeting with my latest group of ladies, the coast of Texas was visited by Hurricane Dolly. Like everyone else in the area, we were busy boarding up windows, filling the bathtub with water, bringing out the flashlights, batteries and radios. The lights went out and we were off the grid for about 22 hours. We got our generator to working for a window AC unit and refrigerator and were able to connect a neighbor’s fridge until the lights were back on. We lost one tree branch and developed a small ceiling leak. A neighbor came by and prayed with my husband for protection before the storm. We were spared from local flooding but have seen piles of branches all over town. Unfortunately, other towns have had serious flooding and property damage.

I was able to disperse additional booklets to half of my ladies to file in a front pocket of their binders before Dolly hit. The new booklets are sealed in waterproof Ziploc bags and have charts that I wish I had when I was first married. The charts provide space for valuable information on certificates for births, marriage, insurance, important phone numbers, emergency items, banking, safe deposit box, investments, medical info, property inventory, Social Security, military, adoptions, etc.

I have been able to speak to one of my ladies who couldn’t be thankful enough for the planning we did. She stockpiled water in her home and tried to spread the word in advance to everyone she knew. Unfortunately, she told me that some did not prepare and now have serious flooding problems, and have limited drinking water. Hurricane Dolly came upon us very quickly and those who did not prepare early are having serious problems. FEMA is waiting until cities can finish local evaluations before they move in for assistance.

So [ladies and] gentlemen, don’t give up if you or your friends have a “Non-preparedness Minded Spouse”! Consider the natural hazards your area is prone to experience, such as: earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, winter storms, volcanoes, landslides, fires, wildfires, hurricanes, thunderstorms and lightning, hazardous materials, etc. Begin collecting information addressing safety needs in your own locale and gently take your spouse and family on a fact sharing mission to prepare in a very real, practical way to protect your loved ones if a natural disaster should hit your area. From there you may be able to move on to even greater plans before something permanent hits the fan. Good Luck! – Charlotte R.